Utopia: No Exit

The first 14 pioneers prepare to enter Utopia.
Utopia (Photo: Adam Rose / Fox)

“Hell is other people.” – Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit. He may have predicted Fox’s new series Utopia.

Show

Utopia, the latest in the “social experiment” genre of reality television, which premiered Sunday and will airs Tuesdays and Fridays at 8pm.

Premise

15 pioneers will spend the next year at a five-acre homestead where they will have to develop their own society. The home audience will have a hand in voting people in and out of the compound, so there will be cast shake-ups. There’s  no prize, other than the satisfaction of creating a new society.

Lineage

The show is based on a Dutch program of the same name which is currently 250 days into its production. John de Mol, the executive producer for both the US and Dutch versions of Utopia, also produces versions of The Voice all over the world. Jon Kroll, one of the producers from Ten Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty, is also attached to the show.

Who is Utopia For?

People who are really into The Sims, but with characters that have 0 points in all the traits when new characters are created. Fans of Big Brother and the Real World may also get a kick out of this show.

What Works

Despite the similarities to Big Brother, the Utopia homestead has quite a few different environments aside from a house and a back yard. Also, the show’s app includes free video streaming (as opposed to BB’s paid streaming) and works rather well. The app also has a library of previous day’s clips in case something was missed.

What Doesn’t Work

All of these people are monsters. It is as if central casting had a list of adjectives and a map of the United States, drew two adjectives (“Libertarian” “Gun Nut” “Religious” “Doomsday Prepper” “Atheist” “Felon”) and threw darts to pick where they would look for the person the adjectives described. Sunday’s show covered only about three days on the compound, and there was already a physical altercation, a trial, and multiple screaming matches and tantrums.

Verdict

The show is about a week backlogged, so there is a lot of cherry picking for getting the most dramatic bits. Once the show gets closer to realtime, the horrible behavior might get more spread out. This may be wishful thinking on my part. We’ll see what happens Tuesday.

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles

Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.” After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv

  • Clare Snyder

    I am 45 minutes in to the first episode and the ONLY person here I can confidently say I “like” is the redneck handyman with no teeth. Everyone else is absolutely appalling. Although there is plenty of time left for the handyman to piss me off, for sure.

    • Spoiler: he’s the worst.

      • Clare Snyder

        Of course he is! Dammit, why can’t I just find a nice, normal, toothless redneck to root for? Although they are ALL “the worst.” All of them. Especially the libertarian with the Napoleon complex.

        • I seem to recall Ralph from Survivor a few seasons back being mostly harmless, though a terrible speller.